321. From Panic to Empowerment | Chloe Lieberman | Wild Abundance | Asheville, NC

May 24, 2020

Blog and Newsletter Writer, Instructor for Nutrition, Gardening, and Wildcrafting

Tell us a little about yourself.

Wild Abundance is more then a website it’s a school, I live here and the school is here in the Southern Appalachian mountains just outside of Asheville, North Carolina

  • corn
  • winter squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • micro dairy, one Jersey cow and mostly Alpine dairy goats
  • flock of ducks
  • beekeeper

medicinal and edible mushroom cultivation

medicinal plants

the school that i work for is located just down the road 

campus is run by my dear friend, Natalie dog walker


this year

we are walking on an online gardening school

teaching people all over the world

pretty much because

we love it an are passionate

afraid of breakdown of supply chains

surge and your listeners have noticed

interested in gardening

when you first start out gardening it can be 

  • overwhelming
  • discouraging

steering them in the right direction

folks who have that inspiration can have that success and keep going

I always think it’s interesting, I always dreamed of going to Montana, I knew a girl who always wanted to go to Maryland. She’s like doesn’t that just sound beautiful?

can really

20 acres

we have 23 acres

bigger farms in this state



up in the mountains

Appalachian mountain chain in the southern part of that mountain chain. It’s one of the oldest mountain formations in the world

Lots of endemic species that live here

It’s a beautiful verdant jungle in the spring and summer

  • temperate rainforest
  • lots of rain
  • gets chilly changing with climate change

A big chunk of that is wooded hillside

farm per se flatland 3-4 acres

where we have the animals

harvest timber obviously for wood heat cooking and mushroom cultivation My partner is just dedicated at working away at developing a silvapasture and nut orchard up on the slope.

I’m sure your listeners know 23 acres can mean a lot of different things if you have top soil and if it’s hilly land

so we are somewhere in between

  • flat for the mountains
  • do grow our vegetables
  • steep land marshy boggy land

That’s similar where we are surrounded by doug fir forest and you can see before and after pics on our website. where he has cut the forest to build the minifarm.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

well, I didn’t grow up gardeningI grew up in the suburbs in the bay area in Northern, CA

small rural western part of the county

alternative school that happened to be a public school, was really a blessing for me and my family getting to go to a private school that was public and free


project based


open classroom

in marin

more rural part

  • best friend mom had dairy goats
  • made her own beer
  • apple sauce

My other friends mom

  • grew beautiful roses
  • berries and fruits

I did have early exposure

we had a garden at my school

early childhood exposure I was drawn to plants and animals

I didn’t tend my own garden till I was in college

I knew I wanted to study

  • agri-cology
  • environmental studies
  • sustainable food systems

avid cook


love vegetables and cook lots

Anyone who cooks a lot has a visceral understanding of the difference of quality of veg

grown in sustainable

industrial food system

was a driving force for me

  • flavor
  • pleasure
  • nourishment
  • enjoyment




  • macro systems
  • food justice systems

way that the world works

How farmers are treated around the world

how they can make a living

farmers and gardens

current practices and practices that would be more optimal for farmers and land and the disconnect

there wanting to sunder

college and studying

renting houses

college students do

my first garden I spearheaded

in front yard

next to the highway

double-dug the beds gat I had been observing

grew some tomatoes

most successful

all Th.

I had worked on other peoples gardens and

volunteered on harvest days

translated into doing it myself that was my first experience, it grew from there.

Then moving out here to NC

One of my big motivations was to grow all of my food, not that I have to do that forever but just to know what that actually looks like

have that experiential knowledge

go to the store

  • land
  • water
  • work
  • have that hands on experience of my impact on the earth basically

That’s what I have been exploring

The listeners know I am going to ask the next question? I’m gonna ask. Are you a rockstar millennial? I think they are all like you! You are like my total avatar. My question is what in the heck made you say I’m gonna go to school to school and study sustainable ag systems and food justice. I feel like we are failing our kids of the opportunities out there still saying you can be a doctor, a lawyer, an architect. I think kids have no what the option are!


Tell us about your courses? Or what you want to talk about next. 

I’ll answer your question of how I got there because I think it’s an important question to ask!

I grew up in the Bay area of Northern CA, 

I great up in a very privileged and mostly white community of progressives

These ideas were available to me

The idea of pursuing something passion not the bottom line of needing to support my family were present because of my cultural background. I just want to aknowlegde that 

fact that I was able to pursue those things, yes was because of my social conscience and my inspiration and my life path but also because of the amount of privilege I lived with

what kids are exposed to there’s kind of this spectrum

some young people have huge amount of privilege like 

white privilege


Don’t ever get asked questions about what is important to them? 

Or brought into these discussions of how we can wield that power and privilige to the 

ecological world

and human world

I feel lucky to be at intersection of those things and have the spaciousness to make choices based on my passion not just the need so support myself and my family

progressive thinking and social consciousness

I want to give credit to my parents who encouraged me to do what I’m passionate about and to learn and ask questions.

For folks listening and have children

I have a young child

overwhelming and look at raising right now

How can they find their place? this is so crazy right now

encouraging children and young people questions that might not have answers but to pursue those questions. thorough the asking and through their engagement in the world that answers might arrive that might not exist yet

I know my listeners are probably interested in the food forest and mushrooms and there are classes they can take.

Wild Abundance is a school that used to be until a few years ago where you had to go in person

you had to come here to the campus

connective community building


permaculture design certification course

  • in depth
  • hands on

8 month program but 

much more with that digging into 

earth skills

ancestors have used to relate to the natural world to supply themselves with sustenance

a lot of amazing classes

  • building
  • re-wilding
  • medicine making

But with many in person classes and with brick and mortar businesses we have had to cancel our classes and pivot into online learning

fortunately we produced an all natural 

brain-tanning class

sueded leather that is 100% natural

producing that course

result to this huge surge interested in food gardening as a result from the pandemic and also to survive as a business

We have created this online gardening school

program to support new and intermediate in being successful

relating to gardening as a living system

mentorship calls ansering nitty gritty questions and also our approach for gardeing where 

gardening is more for people to get food

connect with the natural world

that’s what we teach

food forests

chatted about them with the garden school members but it is not covered in the garden school program

We are looking to develop more online classes

It’s amazing how we can serve more people

not easy for everyone to come here where were located in a hot bed of 


back to the land

aren’t mentors and teachers

online program


new Zealand

lots of places in the US

may or may not have teachers available

encourage people to get on our newsletter and mailing list

developing more classes

  • mushroom cultivating
  • orcharding
  • food forests
  • which all fits under the realm of permaculture

I think after this is all over your going to find that 3 day course is going to be just packed! I think people are going to love each other and be into workshops!

I just want to clarify, the permaculture design courses are longer

subject to specific

woman’s carpentry classes and female identified folks

confident with tools

building things for them

3 day

  • re-wilding course
  • survival course
  • permaculture courses are a little longer

8 month

3 days each month awesome way to go deeper but a great longer commitment

I think a lot of women would like that, because a lot of woman write me and say but I don’t have a Mike at home to build our beds and mike might say why don’t you go because I don’t have any of those skills, I kind of gave up after trying to build a few things.

That’s a really good point, I invite you to come, we have had wonderful feedback about these classes

I have cooked for them, we provide lunch

people come who have never picked up a tool, but others who have a some skills. 

I don’t want to generalize too much as a gender, but my experience as a woman or female identified

not just by messing around doing it, in an environment where people have this kind of have this expectation

  • come together
  • support each other
  • feeling really comfortable in commuity
  • “stupid questions”

Oh yeah now I feel confident

gone through this process

vulnerable receiing help from experienced people

feeling good experimenting

on my own what questions

most popular classes are the woman’s carpentry class

one or twice a year we offer a more advanced class

building structures


work on an individual project like a book shelf in the advanced class we work on something that stands up like a shed

The thing I want to learn, I can’t wait to learn is how to build gates.

I went to Free the Seeds, I gave a way a book, and the number one thing out of 40 people, I want to see 35 of them said was keeping deer out. My husband is really good at is building a fence. People might think, I just want to grow tomatoes. But trust me, pests, critters,are the biggest struggle and the answers are barriers is the biggest way to keep them out. Of course were still struggling with squirrels.

This relationship between gardening and really connecting to the larger world

A lot of people come to gardening because they want something to eat

which is understandable we want to grow food to eat the food. 

Main reason I garden, super rewarding and people don’t even know when they start out that there are so many varieties of vegetables

then we can buy in the store

even to some degree 

bread for ripening time, so they all ripen at the same time for harvesting ease

shelf life

home scale variety


bread for flavored and beauty 

varied ripening time so if you just have a couple of plants you have 

summer squash each day for a month or more

come back and pick them again

small scaled

containers on a balcony

human beings about zoom and snap chat

and all of the ways we’ve gotten so online


not connected

connecting through these unnatural means seperating us from other humans and our connection with the natural world

suffering because

  • depression
  • anxiety

food related illnesses 

  • obesity
  • type 2 diabetes
  • blood pressure

list goes on

see it as this really appealing way to address all of those challenges

not only getting food to eat this daily reminder of the reciprocal relationship with the natural world

not just an intellectual way

earth gives us life

understanding of in their particular spiritual

or philosophical background

this is not philosophical

When you grow a garden






goes into that

as you are digging your garden bed you notice a clutch of baby robins that just hatched

wouldn’t have gone out and been digging doing this repetitive meditative task, if you didn’t go out in the garden

feel hopeful

even in an urban setting 

start to garden

open that door to have an experiential relationship with the natural world

that some of these big challenges we are experienceing culturaly right now may have a big of a crack in them


solutions overwhelming and complex as they sometimes seem but they are actually small and simple

each of us can participate in them in a way that is fun and joyful

sense of satisfaction in our lives!

TOTALLY! The question I want to know, you said in the beginning, what are some of those decisions you made like having one cow?

this is our 7th year of growing here on our homestead before that we were growing a sizable field on our friends place, that was kind of a beginning, so this is 8th year of attempting

don’t grow and raise 100% of my own food

occassionally we will get a pizza or go out to dinner

not super hardcore

more of a balance between that experiment and participating in modern life

size of the place we have to work with and number of people to work the land are huge considerations along with budget in terms of the number of things

One cow, she’s a jersey cow, produces way more milk then we need!

late lactation, she hasn’t had a calf this year, she had a calf last spring, we have since slaughtered him

meat is in our freezer

gallon and half of milk

first freshens, term you use for a dairy animal after having a baby, they will have a baby, they call it the first freshen. she will make over 4 gallons of milk

Wait can I just ask the maybe silliest question but the baby doesn’t need to drink the 4 gallons of milk?

plenty of butter

She makes more then 4 gallons of milk, basically

when we are drinking the milk from the other species but dairy breeds have been bred to produce more milk their babies need, if they didn’t they wouldn’t be able to power a whole industry

baby in commercial dairies

babies are taken away before the mother sees or licks them

if you let them bond they become distressed, either way they become distessed

most commercial

raise the calf

on milk from the baby or from the mother


less then 4 gallons

bunch of different things

baby gets some, still get to spend time together

works better with goats

wanting a break from milking

calf didn’t need to keep milking but he was

slaughtered the calf

started milking

so thats where the gallon and a half come from lots of different ways to do it

I knew cows were taking away at the dairy but not all of that i guess.

so continuing to answer your questions bout size and scale

how much of each to grow

field corn or dried corn

grow that to make tortillas

sometimes we make cornbread or


grow enough corn in a year to last us a year or two so we alternate 

sweet potatoes we often grow more then we need

sometimes sell them

playing the

storage is a issue, it’s not just a question of how many you’ll eat

what kind of set up you have for storing them and how long

I was goona ask about the corn, but I suppose you could

dry as whole kernels so we can store at room temperature

So you just take the kernels off the cob? Still easier, less space, then saving ears of corn taking up less space?

Then what about the goats?

yeah do you have specific questions? How many?

Do you have goats for milk?

we milk

about 1/2 gallon of milk

depends on the breed

Mostly we make

  • kefir
  • shev
  • feta cheese

with the cow milk we sell a lot of cow milk and yogurt so that’s a nice way to pay for the cow itself.

I love feta cheese and it’s so expensive! So I hardly ever buy it. I have a friend who makes her own mozzarella cheese is so amazing! I even bought rennet to try to make it the woman near us who had a cow. 

You can make mozzarrella with store bought milk.

Is there something you guys are excited to try this year that you haven’t tried before?

let me think, yes! we have

my partner really spearhead this, but we have sown different kinds of heirloom wheat

We have this dairy cow so we have a lot of homemade butter

don’t eat a lot of wheat or gluten containing 

sourdough bread or things like that

see how that its looking really good in the field obviously it’s gonna be a ordeal to process to harvest and clean and turn

My husband is interested in growing wheat too, he is a big baker, Mike is getting closer to being able to grow as much of our produce, but we also have the storage issue. I never thought about growing corn to make a corn meal. corn is one of those crops it’s hard to find good quality corn. Mike has a hard time cause our growing season is short. In Eureka, we are 6 miles south of town, it’s much easier to get corn there because they have 3 weeks on each of our ends of the season.

northern adapted varieties of flint corn

when I say dry field corn it’s different then sweet corn

you can’t just use sweet corn and let it dry to use for corn tortillas etc. 

need to grow varieties to be harvested in their dry mature corn

There are 3 kinds of corn

  • flint
  • flour
  • dense?


flint tend to be shorter in their growing season, the native people of the north east, all the way into Canada developed corn to grow in a short season.

You know Mike and I joined a couple of Maine gardening groups, because were looking at a place in Maine, but again, at our property we struggle. Our last frost date is usually about the first week in June, and the first frost in the fall is about the first week in Sept but we have had a frost on August 8th. 

Mike is growing more food this year then ever as we are worried about a food shortage this fall.

what lesson have you learned form this experiment about growing your own food?

how long have you been doing it

dairy? One cow


food forest

Hope to grow those fears to

from panic to empowerment


if you are interested in connecting with me


there is a navigation bar


onsite classes


Which I write for, but I have been busy these last couple of months but I will be diving back into that soon


share tips and how too



youtube channel

active on social media

Facebook and Instagram

wild abundance

southern Appalachians

look forward to connecting with some of your listeners.

Just at least for me to find you I had to go to the instructor page, staff and instructors!

Thanks so much for sharing! Your website is awesome keep on doing these great things. Thanks for changing!


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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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